This week we’ve explored the power of giving gifts like grace, loyalty, trust, and clarity. Today’s post is about the gift of attention.

My youngest son Joel has been going through some emotional junk lately. The little tiger’s not exactly articulate with his feelings, though this doesn’t stop his feelings from hijacking his words and actions. He’s been bursting into tears, blowing his stack, and taking everything difficult as a personal attack. His friends have been brutal to him. Bottom line, it hasn’t been pretty.

What would you do? Here’s what I did. I pulled all three of our kids in the living room and read Ephesians 6:10-18, the passage about struggling against spiritual enemies. I then said something like, “Guys, I believe Joel’s heart is being attacked by Satan right now and it’s time to stand together and pray for him.” So we did. We gathered around him, laid hands on him, and loved on him. “You are not alone, buddy,” I said. “We’re with you. We’re behind you.”

A peace settled onto Joel, and we could see it in his eyes. Better yet, the next day was phenomenal. “I think God answered our prayers,” he said, thankful.

Beyond the obvious power of God and prayer, the gift we gave Joel that night was the gift of attention.

There aren’t many valleys in life that run deeper and darker than feeling invisible, unheard, unknown, unnoticed, ignored, or unappreciated.

Love begins with giving the gift of attention. Worship begins with giving our attention. Listening is about giving our attention. Attention is huge.

Craving attention is completely different. Attention seeking can lead to dressing provocatively, workaholism, giving in to peer pressure, pretending you’re someone you’re not, and selling your soul. Which is why it’s so important to give the gift to people before they come looking for it.

When people seek attention, they take the initiative. This means they are the ones choosing the focus of our attention. They do this by pushing something into the limelight. Examples might be breasts, butts, cars, biceps, clothing, or social standing—irrelevant stuff that does nothing to grow our souls.

When we take the initiative to give attention, we choose the focus. We can choose to highlight an act of kindness someone has offered, a virtue we’ve observed in action, a creative flare that’s made a difference, a heart for God, or kudos for a well executed parenting moment—ie, the stuff that actually matters. True, some people actually avoid the limelight and blush (both emotionally and physically) when attention is drawn to them. I’ve found, though, that blushers prefer one-on-one attention to public attention. They would also prefer “Nice job on the cake” to “You’re the best baker on earth.”

So now… the final dare of the week.

Think of an attention seeker in your life. Got ’em? Now, what are they drawing attention to? Name it. And then, in a posture of prayer, ask God to reveal what he’d like you to draw attention to instead. Then do it. The beauty of this gift is that you are subtly teaching them to think about part of themselves that is worthy of attention, instead of the shallow stuff they’d chosen to highlight.

Okay, we’re not done yet. Now think of someone in your life that hides from the limelight. In a prayerful state of mind, ask God to show you what he’d like to highlight in their lives. Then give the gift of attention, trusting God to guide to as you package the attention in a way that will truly bless them instead of embarrass them.

Have fun, and have a great weekend!